Model: An interview with Fran Disley

AXOLOTLWords by by Jennifer Gleadell

Despite the constant evolution of the art scene in Liverpool, due to the hard work of spaces such as Cactus Gallery and the Royal Standard and establishments like Liverpool Biennial, the Exhibition Research Centre, and Open Eye Gallery, there is still a noticeable lack of space for artists in the city centre. Model, however,  a recently opened gallery on Wood Street, is set to change this completely.

The gallery is the brain child of three artists, curators and ex-directors of the Royal Standard; Fran Disley, Dave Evans and Kevin Hunt. So far, in the space of just over a month, the trio have staged a launch party and inaugurated their programme, opening their first exhibition Axolotl, curated by Dave Evans, on Friday 1 August. The by-line for the gallery is ‘A flexible platform for artist-led activity in Liverpool’. This may be too vague for some, who require a gallery to have a traditional, pedagogical approach, however, this non-prescriptive quality is necessary in order to leave room to grow. During a quick chat with one third of the curatorial trio, Disley, I was excited to find out more about what these artists are hoping to achieve, and discover where they see Model fitting within the Liverpool art scene.

Firstly, where did the idea for Model come from and how would you describe what you intend to do?

So Model came out of a series of discussions with people about a lack of platforms in the city for early stage career artists. Being artists and curators based in Liverpool we have all been conscious that the city is quite top heavy, with an abundance of larger institutions like FACT, the Walker, the Bluecoat, Open Eye, Tate and Liverpool Biennial with not so much happening at the smaller scale. What the Royal Standard and Cactus do is great but there needs to be more. We are particularly interested in whether the lack of spaces in which to show could actually have an impact on whether early career artists decide to settle here. Therefore, we see Model partly as research; we would like to explore what works, what’s useful and importantly what’s sustainable. So Model encompasses more than just a gallery in theory. We will assess what elements will continue at the end of the process so it’s exciting for us to see what comes of everything.

Though the project seems finite and you will assess the results at the end of this programme, what are you hoping Model will achieve?

We are really keen for Model to encourage others to set up spaces, host events etc. so we will be hosting talks and offering mentoring throughout. We don’t want Model to just come and go. We would be really happy if it led to others realizing projects and some elements from ourselves continuing.

Can you tell us any more details about the upcoming programme?

I can tell you that there will be three exhibitions, each curated by one of us, but we will be contributing and advising each other on these. We will also be inviting artists to work/come together as part of our combine series. There will be broadcasting and a store selling all kinds of artworks and multiples, some of which will be commissioned to accompany the main exhibitions. There will also be some offsite activity happening throughout the city. For more information, check the website: www.modelliverpool.com

Finally, can I ask how you came up with the name?

Well, we liked the idea of the title Model as it has so many different connotations. We were thinking to model as in to model a piece of clay or to create a maquette and of course a Model for future artist led activity but we really never want it to sound preachy.

Axolotl

2 – 23 August 2014

MODEL 28-32 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4AQ

Open Wednesday to Sunday

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